How To Better NASCAR For Casual Fans

How To Better NASCAR For Casual Fans

By Chris Cole

February 6, 2019

I consider myself a casual fan of NASCAR at most and a fringe fan at best, but in recent years I haven’t really given myself a chance to get back into Cup racing.  The three stages they implemented last year felt alien to me but I know it has been able to produce some great action in the middle of a race. It’s well known that NASCAR has been struggling to get butts in seats and eyes on the TV so they have been doing what they can to give some intrigue to their brand like the three race stages.  While people either like or dislike that setup, I have four ideas they should do to satisfy die-hard fans as well as appealing to casual fans like me.

Idea #1: Test ideas out in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series first.

In the past, NASCAR has used the lower level series to test to out ideas to try and make the racing better. For example, they tested out the caution clock and stage racing in the lower level series.If it’s something involving major changes to a car, like the Car of Tomorrow, it should be tried out in the Xfinity Series first since cars and trucks will behave differently to any structural changes. Changes that are gradually introduce are more welcomed and expected by fans compared to the overhauls NASCAR has done recently which have alienated some longtime fans.

Idea #2: Make all Crown Jewel Races a traditional race without Stages

What are Crown Jewel Races?  They are the four of the biggest races on the NASCAR calendar. The races are called the Daytona 500 (Daytona International Raceway), Coca-Cola 600 (Charlotte Motor Speedway), Southern 500 (Darlington Raceway) and the Brickyard 400 (Indianapolis Motor Speedway).  Each of these races are of significant prestige to NASCAR and I think they shouldn’t be messed with in terms of the three stages. They should be the old-fashion start-to-finish no-stage marathons that die-hard fans want to have for every race instead of the stages.  It brings variety as well as importance to these races.

Idea #3: Any track that has a second race should have that race on the infield circuit if they have one.

Harking back to the idea of having more variety to the schedule, another thing that could bring more fans to the races is having some of the tracks that get a second race and have an infield circuit, utilize that course for their other race.  When NASCAR comes back to Daytona instead instead of racing around the 2.5 tri-oval again for the Coke Zero Sugar 400, they should utilize the road course used for the Rolex 24 hours of Daytona. NASCAR proved last year that using the Roval set-up for the second race at Charlotte Motor Speedway brought a lot of intrigue and worked well for the most part.  Heck, make the first race at Phoenix be on their road course and utilize the oval for the playoffs.

Idea #4: Have some races be two complete rounds in one weekend by splitting the distance.

What do Superbikes, Australian Supercars, and IndyCar have in common?  They have at least one round in which they conduct two races in one weekend.  NASCAR should emulate more of what Australia does for some of their rounds more so than the other two motorsport references.  For example, the Australian Supercar series will label their races like NASCAR does by indicating the distance of the race in the name of the race (i.e. the Daytona 500 is a 500-mile race).  One race in the Supercar series is the Townsville 400, with the 400 meaning 400 kilometers and not miles. The Townsville 400 is split into two races, each lasting 200 kilometers.

NASCAR could take a race like the Camping World 400 at Chicagoland Speedway and split it into two, 200-mile races.  To add more variety they could make the first race happen Saturday night and the second race happen Sunday afternoon.  It would create unique setup changes and strategies between the two races as well as extra exposure on TV as there would be a Cup race two-straight days in a row. This could only work on the race weekends that the Xfinity or Truck Series isn't racing, unless NASCAR decides to give their fans a double-header.

So how do these four ideas satisfy everyone?

For the hardcore fan that wants a straightforward race without the stages they get the big races without a mandatory interruption and for the casual fan they get to see NASCAR showcase their cars through a variety of different trials from ovals, rovals, and regular road courses.   For me, if NASCAR actually did any of this it would show everyone that they want to innovate while also showing respect for tradition. Seek the new, but respect the old should be the motto NASCAR should follow from this point forward.

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